iPods

frank's demise

I have had a number of iPods over the years. Starting with my iPod 3G, then a 5G (whose screen is pictured above), a 1st-gen iPod Touch and lately an iPod 7G Classic with a 160GB drive in it. I’ve loved them all, but it really feels like “Device as a Music Player” is done. Apple’s shift from iPods to iPhones started that downward trend.

But it’s gone further than just the obsolescence of the dedicated player. Music storage itself has become another quaint notion. Services like Rdio and Pandora (still not available in Canada) have replaced saved music for many people. And video too is a thing that is streamed rather than “owned”.

I blame Apple. The company that started the shift to digital music has failed to innovate. The 256kbit AAC DRM file is now the pinnacle of purchasable audio and it’s not nearly good enough. Marketing phrases such as “Mastered for iTunes+” really mean “We’ve destroyed any dynamic range this recording might have had”. Sure, the Compact Disc wasn’t perfect, but mastering for that format certainly left a lot more room for the engineer to play with.

iTunes itself has become something of an abomination. More interested with selling you things than maintaining and organizing your library, it’s frustrating to use if you have any amount of content in your library. Ironically, I think the Apple Remote software available on the iPad may be my preferred interface for the new iTunes. It may feel more connected to my library than iTunes itself.

iTunes 11 is the Apple Maps of media software.

I think the field is ripe for picking. Someone could come along and ship some music library software that doesn’t suck. I would pay for it. Bonus points if it will recognize and consolidate libraries from around my home network. And if it could stream to my devices while I’m out and about, automagically compressing my music on the fly, well that’d be keen.

Android Photography

Android’s come a long way since my first fumblings a few years ago with a Dell Streak (“steak”). Both software and hardware have improved immensely since then. Sure, there are still some things that make you shake your head and question reality, but for the most part, Android 4.2 is a great platform.

In most cases when looking for a piece of software for a particular task, the problem you’re faced with is that there are too many options to choose from. So, I’m going to share a few of my favorite photo apps with you. (spoiler: none of them are Instagram).

Stock Android Camera

Yes, it’s built-in on the Nexus phones. It was a big deal with the release of 4.2 and has a fairly unusual interface. Radial menus for most control functions and a strange focus indicator. It’s a decent app, but I tend to fumble with it when trying to use it. The radial menus and icons are harder to figure out at a glance than they need to be and the control I want is never on the menu I go to first.

Ok, not a huge fan, but one nice feature in the Gallery app is a new set of built-in photo filters that are on par with just about any other camera app. Combined with Android’s impressive sharing capabilities, it lets you edit some great pictures without installing anything else.

galaxy glitch

Camera Zoom FX

This was the first alternative camera app I bought for my Galaxy Nexus. I bought it for the built-in effects, but it turns out to be a very capable camera app in its own right. With a bunch of setup options for guidelines, stability indicators, and horizon leveling, it’s already more useful than the built-in app. Add in some additional shot controls like timers, timelapse and voice-activation and you’ve got a stew goin’.

How are the effects? Delicious. You can grunge up any decent photo and make it look like you’re shooting a $10 Lomo Diana without the embarrassment of actually handling one.

sale

Vignette

Apparently this is one of the most popular Android photography apps according to the Android Photographers group on Flickr. I tried it and it’s decent. I find some of the control settings a little hard to get to though, buried in the settings menu. If I need exposure compensation, I don’t want to leave the camera’s live view to do it.

Nice effects though and good level of control if you can dig into it.

construction at the river

 

Shot Control

If there were a camera app for nerds this would be it. Every control right there on the screen. There are so many controls, that the developers made a curious choice: The live view from the camera is in a corner of the screen. This real-time resizing comes at the cost of performance. It’s slow. Yes, there are lots of controls there to fiddle with. There are probably going to be times when I pull this out because I need a very specific bunch of settings. God help me when that’s true.

Snapseed

Hey, remember Snapseed? It used to be for iOS only and it’s by the very capable crew at Nik Software. Then they shipped it for Android. And then Google bought it. You can tell because it has a G+ icon in the top strip.

Don’t let its checkered past confuse you though. This is one of the few apps built by a company with a pedigreed history in producing professional image editing software. The controls are specific and very finely tunable. You should be able to produce some great photos with this. Only problem? It’s doesn’t have camera software builtin so you’ll be relying on one of the others to take the actual shot.

Flickr

I like flickr. It’s no secret. Their app has finally gotten some love as well.

The app ain’t bad, but the built-in effects are slow. You’re better off using one of the other image editors and using flickr to upload to flickr. It also shows up as a sharing option in the Android sharing menu for smooth, comfortable convenience. Nice!

ProCapture

A late addition from the Android Photographer group. Just installed this and it looks like a very capable camera app. I’ll have to play with it a bit but it might just be a thing.

Metabones announces ‘Speed Booster’ lens adapter for mirrorless cameras

Metabones and optics company Caldwell Photographics have jointly announced the ‘Speed Booster’, a lens adapter for for mounting SLR lenses on APS-C and Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras that reduces the focal length by a factor of 0.71x and increases the maximum aperture by 1 stop.

Metabones announces ‘Speed Booster’ lens adapter for mirrorless cameras: Digital Photography Review.

By the power of physics! I still think they sound a little silly for the price, but could make for some neat wide-exposure lens pairings.